Q: I am 32, married with two children. My father remarried when I was 12. It was a difficult time and I am very grateful that my stepmom had the patience she did. It took me until my junior year in high school to realize she was not the awful person my mother said she was. (She was not the reason my parents divorced.) Mother’s Day is hard. It’s a day to acknowledge your mother, but if I want to make my mother happy I have to completely ignore a woman who has been very kind to me. How do I get around this? My Mother’s Day dream is to have a nice lunch with my mother, my bonusmom, and my two children with enjoying everyone’s company, but I have no idea how to initiate the idea. I think my mom will just lose it.

A: What you’re proposing is something you have to work toward all year round. So after this Mother’s Day, that’s when you might explain your feelings. Don’t be surprised if Mom balks at the suggestion at first – it may take time for her to accept that you also have affection for someone else. Even though you’re clear that your mom is mom, she may still not feel secure, and her first reaction might be that of betrayal.

One of the most touching conversations I’ve ever had with a mother was after she found a receipt for a Mother’s Day present in her daughter’s room. A few days later, when she realized the present wasn’t for her, she explained that what really hurt wasn’t that the gift issue, but her realization that her attitude forced her daughter to hide her affection for another person from her.

It may be that your dream will never be realized, but don’t keep your affection for both women a secret. Make sure mom knows you’re not picking someone over her, but that you’re an adult and have developed a deep respect for someone who has been kind to you. And, if mom doesn’t want to share her day, sit down with Bonusmom and figure out a day for just you and her — and any other bonus relations who should also be there. If you think there should be a Bonusparent’s Day, let us know. We’ll keep you all posted.

 

Jann Blackstone-Ford, Ph.D., and her husband’s ex-wife, Sharyl Jupe, authors of “Exetiquette for Parents,” are the founders of Bonus Families (www.bonusfamilies.com). Reach them at: eebonusfamilies.com